Premier League Season Preview 2017-18

Chelsea won their second title in three years last season, but there were plenty of enticing stories elsewhere. Tottenham said goodbye to White Hart Lane with another impressive campaign as both Merseyside clubs progressed significantly. Bournemouth made the top half while Burnley bridged financial waters to win more than half their home games. What’s in store for this season? Here’s The Football Lab predictions (click on the green links for club season previews/fan Q&As).

Romelu Lukaku gives Manchester United predatory ruthlessness, the one quality lacking last season. He will benefit from Paul Pogba’s creativity as Ander Herrera continues to patrol matters ahead of last season’s second best defence. With a more streamlined focus, the Red Devils look ready for their first title in the post-Fergie era. 1st

We saw flashes of what Liverpool can do last season and Mohamed Salah’s arrival should reduce their dependence on Sadio Mane. If they keep Philippe Coutinho and tighten up at set pieces, the Reds could become serious title contenders.  2nd

A change to three-at-the-back last season saw Arsenal win seven of their final eight league games. Sead Kolasinac should be perfect for the left wing-back role while Granit Xhaka could dominate midfields in his second season. The Gunners are unlikely to win the title, but they should improve. 3rd 

Man City have strengthened in the full-back areas this season and retain a plethora of quality attacking options. A disregard for primarily defensive performers however, could hold them back in their quest for major honours. 4th

Champions have finished on average 8th over the last four seasons and Chelsea could again suffer from complacency. Their squad, without Nemanja Matic’s experience and likely without Diego Costa’s goals, has been weakened as disgruntlement rumbles on. Expect a tough campaign. 5th

Tottenham begin this season with no competition for last year’s second choice full-backs and without a midfielder capable of driving forward from deep. The club has neglected the need to strengthen this summer and playing home games at Wembley may not help matters. 6th 

Three Premier League title winners adds valuable experience at West Ham and Marko Arnautovic is a quality wide man. With the team and fans a little more accustomed to new surroundings, we could see more of what this squad is capable of. 7th

Everton may be weakened up top in Lukaku’s absence, but their midfield looks stronger than it did 12 months ago while Michael Keane and Jordan Pickford should improve them defensively. The Toffees will be a major threat in the Europa League and it would make sense for Koeman to make that competition his primary focus. 8th

Harry Maguire adds composure at the back for Leicester, who have a tenacious midfield creating for a revitalized Jamie Vardy. Another title win looks unlikely, as does a top six berth, but the resurgent Foxes should be among the best of the rest. 9th

Newcastle’s dominant Championship campaign suggests they will adapt well, with a strong midfield led by Jonjo Shelvey and Matt Ritchie. Experience may be lacking, but Rafa Benitez has re-built bridges with fans, so a top half finish could be on the cards. 10th

Southampton were worse last season than their eighth place finish suggested. They should compete reasonably well defensively, but Mauricio Pellegrino has not been able to add players to help implement his direct style of play. The Saints may drop out of the top half for the first time in five years. 11th

With an exciting midfield led by better management, Watford should improve on last season, especially if Craig Cathcart’s partnership with Sebastien Prodl can be maintained. Forward and wide options are limited though, so the Hornets might not quite be ready for the top half – yet. 12th

Having signed players of European pedigree, Huddersfield Town have strengthened significantly. They boast arguably the best deep playmaker outside the elite in Aaron Mooy, his creativity maximized by pace in wide areas and physicality up top. With the bond between club and fans closer than ever, the unified Terriers could be the story of the season. 13th

Though West Brom have stabilized in recent years, they need to do more at some stage to evolve an aging squad and encourage better use of the ball. By definition, they never directly struggle under Tony Pulis, but fans have a right to ask for a little more. 14th

For all the good football Bournemouth played last season, no new defenders have joined a back-line that shipped 67 last term. The Cherries did superbly to make the top half, but Eddie Howe has to be willing to evolve his squad and adapt his tactical approach for progress to continue. 15th 

Stoke have made few attempts to evolve an aging squad. The trio of Lee Grant, Ryan Shawcross and Kurt Zouma provide strong resistance in their own box, but with Arnautovic not convincingly replaced, it is hard to see how they will trouble the opposition. Hughes’ good work in the past means a patient board could give him dangerous levels of loyalty. 16th 

Keane might have left, but Burnley retain three of a strong back-four as well as inspirational keeper Tom Heaton, whilst adding top flight experience in Jonathan Walters and Jack Cork. If the combative nature of Turf Moor displays can be maintained on the road, they might just survive again. 17th 

In appointing Frank De Boer, it is clear that Crystal Palace are changing their approach, but limited pre-August activity means they have a squad built in the image of his predecessors. With old-school defenders, quick wide men and a target man in Christian Benteke that likes early balls forward, the new strategy may not suit the players available. 18th

Slow summer business at Swansea suggests their resurgence under Paul Clement has papered over well-known cracks in their squad. No senior defenders have joined a back-line that shipped 70 last term and a Gylfi Sigurdsson-inspired surge may no longer be a viable escape route. 19th

As well as Brighton did last season, summer recruitment has looked a little modest. Increased fitness levels in the top flight could make life hard for an aging squad, much of which lacks pace and is yet to taste football at this level. 20th